When shopping for a general contractor for your next commercial building project, it can be tempting to throw in the towel and decide not to hire one at all. You may see that general contractor’s markup on his bid and think, “I could do his job myself and save a ton of money.” Think again. A commercial building or remodeling project is complicated, lengthy, and expensive. It takes experience in order for it to be done right.
Here’s why you should not be your own general contractor.
The project will take much longer than you anticipate. If you want your project to be done on time, hire a general contractor. What if you wanted the project done in two months but it took six? Those long months of construction will cause you to lose a ton of money in lost revenue and increased construction costs. You will probably end up losing more than if you had paid a general contractor in the first place. An experienced general contractor has done this time and time again. He has the knowledge and manpower to stick to a construction timeline and get your project done on time so you can occupy the building.
You will have a hard time gathering permits. Commercial building projects require many different permits in order for you to legally build or remodel a structure. These permits ensure that you are following codes and safety standards for your municipality. An experienced general contractor will know what permits need to be acquired and he will get them well before groundbreaking.
You won’t be properly insured. A licensed, insured general contractor has general liability insurance as well as worker’s compensation insurance. These types of insurance protect the general contractor, you (the property owner), and all of the workers on the job site from any disasters and dangers. As someone who is not professionally a general contractor, you probably won’t want to purchase insurance for this one project. That can leave you open to many issues. If someone gets hurt on the job and you aren’t insured, you will be held liable.
You probably don’t have the experience to manage a job site. A general contractor’s main job is to orchestrate a job site and make sure that workers and subcontractors are doing their jobs safely and correctly. He will schedule the project in the most efficient way and make sure that he meets project milestones. If you’ve never done it before, this can be a daunting task, especially for a commercial building.
A general contractor knows who the best subcontractors are. He will have many contacts in the business. You won’t. If he is experienced, he will know who does good work and who he should avoid. This will translate into better quality of craftsmanship for your project and a more efficient timeline. He can also get competitive bids from subcontractors whereas you probably won’t be able to. When the subcontractors complete their work, the general contractor will inspect it and make sure it is up to par.
It is a stressful job. Managing dozens of people in a messy, dangerous, outdoor work environment? If that sounds like your idea of fun, maybe you should be your own general contractor. If not, it’s best left to the pros, especially if you have your own business to manage. You should be focused on what you do best and let your general contractor handle the stress and chaos of the building project.
A general contractor already knows building codes. If you decide to be your own general contractor and you actually make it to the end of the project, you will need to get your building inspected. What happens now if the work isn’t up to code? You have to do it again. A general contractor will have building codes in mind during the entire project and will make sure that every bit of work is up to code as the project moves along.
A general contractor might be able to get better prices for materials. Since they have a lot of contacts in the construction industry, they probably know where to find the best materials for the best price. They also watch fluctuating materials prices and know when it will be at its cheapest. They might be able to get you a good deal, allowing you to save much more money than you would have if you decided to be your own general contractor.